Coke or Pepsi? Brand preferences affect relationships

Relationships|August 15th 2017

Do you prefer Coca Cola or Pepsi? Are you more partial to iPhones or Androids? Do you prefer McDonald’s or Burger King? These questions may seem trivial, but a new study suggests that if you and your partner answer differently it could make you feel less happy in your relationship.

Researchers in the United States believe that conflicting brand loyalty could turn into a problem for couples based on their power dynamic.

Lead author Danielle Brick is a Marketing Professor at the University of New Hampshire. She explained that if one partner makes a majority of the decisions, the “low power” can find themselves stuck with brands they would not choose for themselves “over and over again”. This could potentially lead to “a death-by-a-thousand-cuts feeling”.

Although she admits that most couples “won’t break up over brand incompatibility” alone, she suggests it could lead to “the low power partner becoming less and less happy” over time.

Her team used data from several experiments. One of the people Brick worked with on this study was Gavan Fitzsimons, a professor at Duke University in North Carolina. He said:

“People think compatibility in relationships comes from having similar backgrounds, religion or education. But we find those things don’t explain how happy you are in life nearly as much as this notion of brand compatibility.”

If people can find a way to make relationships work with people from other faiths, countries and political allegiances, surely the Cola wars can be set aside. So how are we supposed to approach this issue? Should we simply write off anyone who likes 7 Up more than Sprite? Fitzsimons suggested that people who are looking for a partner “should maybe consider including brand preferences on their dating profiles”.  That’s all well and good for single people, but what about those who discover their partner’s preferences once the relationship is already established? Well, “they can adopt a joint brand that both are happy about” the Duke professor said.

The study was published in the academic Journal of Consumer Research.

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